Green Movements & Politics

The Green Movement and Its Impact on Politics

green movement

The green movement has become an increasingly popular political force. It began as a political movement, but today it includes more than environmental causes. In the 1970s, the first green member of the national legislature was elected in Switzerland, and four years later, four greens were elected to the Belgian legislative assembly. Since then, green parties have formed in the former Soviet bloc, which was a major factor in the fall of communist regimes, and in developing nations in South America, Asia, and Africa. Despite its success in a handful of countries, the movement has seen limited electoral success.

Evolution

The modern green movement is not new, but its history stretches back to the 18th century. As the Cold War raged on, an increasing awareness of environmental issues gained steam. Rachel Carson, who wrote the bestseller Silent Spring, exposed the harmful toxins in our consumer goods and declared that attempting to manipulate nature was amoral and arrogant idea. The Sierra Club was established in the 1850s, and in the following century, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was founded. These events paved the way for the current green movement.

During the 1970s and early 1980s, mainstream environmental organizations began to emerge. The Ecology Party in Britain emerged around this time, and the Green Party in the former West Germany began to grow. Today, there are over 60 national Green Parties, most of them in developed nations. But they have also been forced underground by authoritarian regimes in places such as Saudi Arabia and Somalia. Despite their modest electoral success, the green movement is still an important and growing force in the world.

Origins

The Green Movement was born out of environmental concern, which was blunted after the September 11 attacks. As the government focused on terrorism, environmental issues were put on the backburner. President George W. Bush was not perceived as a friend of the Earth, and the environmental movement began to fade. However, by the early 1990s, the Green Party had achieved national representation in many countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom.

The movement’s earliest manifestations began in 1918, when the Clamshell Alliance occupied the site of nuclear reactor construction in Seabrook, New Hampshire. There, 1,414 protestors were arrested and only one reactor came online. In California, the Abalone Alliance began protesting the construction of a dam on the Diablo Canyon. In Kenya, the Green Belt Movement was established by Wangari Maathai to combat soil erosion and forest loss. Maathai organized thousands of women to plant seedlings, and paid them to do so.

Characteristics

While the book focuses on the greens in the west, it also examines the radical environmentalists in other parts of the world. It argues that a common set of structural characteristics and political cultures underlie the growth of such movements, and this similarity reflects in their characteristics. While these differences do not mean that they can’t be relevant to other areas, they provide a useful guide for identifying the characteristics of green movements in other countries.

The dark greens believe that environmental issues are inherent to industrialized civilization. They believe that prevailing political ideologies are corrupt and lead to consumerism, alienation from nature, and resource depletion. They also believe that a focus on growth is leading us to unsustainable levels of consumption. These groups are often associated with Deep Ecology, post-materialism, and theories espoused by scientists James Lovelock and Fritjof Capra.

Impact

The impact of the green movement on political life is still uncertain, particularly on the climate issue. It is unclear if the greens’ nonviolent principles are sustainable, as they have a tendency to form alliances with extremes. In Austria, for example, greens formed a coalition with the conservative People’s Party, combining anti-immigrant policies with climate targets. The greens’ political agenda is more akin to that of the liberal Democrats, but they are still an unlikely force in governing.

The early human race never worried about contamination or pollution. However, modern humans have been ignoring the warnings of ancient civilizations about the depletion of the environment. Hence, it is imperative to protect the environment and maintain its quality of life. During the 1940s, industrial pollution was a major focus. A wire and steel plant in Pennsylvania released sulfur dioxide that killed 20 people. Eventually, the green movement gained momentum and dominated the political landscape. Dignitaries like President Eisenhower and Jacques Cousteau began promoting legislations aimed at reducing pollution.

Future

Despite the growing influence of the green movement, there are several questions that still need to be answered. For starters, green parties aren’t necessarily a progressive force when it comes to influencing public policy. In some countries, they have moved beyond being protest parties to influential power brokers. In other countries, they remain a marginal force, with little chance of influencing government policy. Some green parties, such as the Latvian Green Party, are more conservative than others.

As the global green movement gains traction, it must also consider the motivations of its supporters. Some of the green movement’s most popular leaders are envirocelebrities, including former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and rock stars Sting and Bono. These individuals use their public profile to highlight environmental issues and promote green products. For example, Al Gore won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 and helped organize the Live Earth concert series.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.